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I find the phrase ‘gut the (one’s) roster’ very often in the sport section of news papers as used in the following examples. What does it mean? Is it used only in sport related context?

1.He ‘gutted the roster’ of almost all of the players that were in the majors before he arrived, ....

2.The New York Knicks ‘gutted their roster’ on Monday evening to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. .....

3.When Phoenix ‘gutted its roster’ this offseason, I honestly don't think many Suns fans expected their team to be at ....

4.The trade that finally united the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony resulted in ‘a gutted roster’ and a fractured front office, but those details were deemed secondary to winning a championship.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The roster is the list of players who are on your team.

To gut something means to remove its vital organs and other innards (lungs, intestines, spleen, etc; whatever fits inside its chest/abdomen cavity).

To gut the roster, therefore, means to get rid of a large chunk of players that people would ordinarily consider essential to the team.

From your examples 2 and 4, The New York Knicks traded away a lot of good players who had performed well for the team and who had been considered solid, dependable athletes at the core of the team's structure, all in order to acquire a single player who can be a superstar and who can (hopefully) win them a championship basically on his own.

It is a sport-based phrase, but you might find it anywhere that a sports metaphor can be used, such as when a new manager comes into a department and fires a bunch of people.

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Hellion is 100% correct. Note that "gut" also refers to the abdominal area of the body itself. – horatio Feb 24 '11 at 15:54
Hellion. Thanks. 'Trade away a lot of good players' was exactly the meaning what I guessed, but couldn't put in right words. If I replace 'trade away' with 'release,' does it lose the sense of 'gut'? – Yoichi Oishi Feb 24 '11 at 18:14
No, any means of getting rid of the players can be used in a gutting; it's really a question of who's being removed, not how. – Hellion Feb 24 '11 at 19:19

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